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Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award 2012 granted to Professor Aaron Wheeler


Merck announced today that the 2012 Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science will be given to Professor Wheeler from the University of Toronto for his development of a digital microfluidic method for the extraction and quantification of estrogen in 1-microliter samples of breast tissue homogenate, whole blood and serum. This method may be broadly applicable for diagnostics requiring frequent analysis of hormones in clinical samples, which are important markers for example in infertility or cancer. The award, endowed with € 15,000, will be presented to Professor Wheeler at Merck Millipore's Technology Exposition in Bedford, Massachusetts, USA, on October 17, 2012.

"Professor Wheeler's development of new analytical methods using digital microfluidic technology to overcome the limitations of conventional techniques in the extraction and quantification of estrogen is an outstanding scientific achievement with significant societal impact, for example in breast cancer diagnosis," explained Professor Reinhard Niessner (Technical University of Munich, Germany), the head of the international jury for the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award.

"By selecting Aaron Wheeler, we are recognizing a talented and very successful scientist. We are looking forward to his award lecture in October," said Dr. Thomas Geelhaar, Chief Technology Officer Chemicals at Merck. "Thanks to his groundbreaking scientific approach, Professor Wheeler has helped to achieve tremendous advances in the research field of hormone analysis."

Aaron R. Wheeler (37) is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Department of Chemistry. The Wheeler research group is developing hybrid methods that rely on the unique advantages of microchannels and digital microfluidics for applications in the areas of chemistry, biology, and medicine. This approach moves sample and reagent droplets across open surfaces by applying electrical potentials to an array of electrodes, which makes it particularly well suited to multistep sample processing for high-throughput bioanalytical applications. His concept promises reduced reagent consumption and analysis time, the capacity to integrate multiple functions onto a single device, and the potential for high throughput analysis.

For more than 20 years, the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award has been recognizing scientists under the age of 45 whose work focuses on new methods in chemical analysis and the development thereof in applications aimed at improving the quality of human life, for example in fields such as life science, environmental protection and the biosciences.

Source: Merck KGaA